Complacency is a real danger to fleet operations, especially well-run fleets. Most fleet managers will tell you the “low-hanging fruit” has been picked long ago with a diminishing number of opportunities to refine fleet efficiency further and reduce costs.
There is truth in this statement, but sometimes it can be used as an excuse by some fleet managers not to stray from their comfort zone. These fleet managers reason that things are working just fine, why monkey with a well-tuned fleet operation? Again, there is some truth to this statement. But ask yourself, “Is your goal to run a well-managed fleet, or do you want to run a best-in-class fleet?”
A great fleet manager constantly conceptualizes new initiatives, is creative in problem-solving, motivates staff and suppliers to excel, and is willing to experiment by implementing new technology-based fleet solutions. A fleet manager too comfortable with his or her operation becomes complacent with his or her skill set. When operations are running smoothly, there is inertia to change. The conventional wisdom is not to change something that isn’t broken.
Are these fleet managers truly optimizing fleet performance? Or, are they settling for good enough?
An early mentor advised me long ago never to get comfortable. Always assume a competitor breathing down your neck, even if there isn’t one. He advised me to push the envelope and implement “stretch goals.”
This also applies to fleet management. The great fleet managers I have known over the years are not complacent; they are strivers who are continually pushing the envelope.
Stretch Beyond Your Comfort Level
Veteran fleet managers who have implemented numerous cost-saving initiatives will tell you savings become more difficult to find; The law of diminishing returns takes hold. They point out that most of the excess cost was wrung out of the operation. They point to metrics that prove the fleet is running smoothly. These fleet managers are operating on autopilot. They’ve become comfortable. Becoming comfortable, or “resting on one’s laurels,” is the road to complacency.
Complacency is the enemy of excellence. A great fleet manager always believes additional cost savings can be achieved.
They recognize the need to be creative. They also believe there is always something new to learn. They are continual learners. These fleet managers stay current with industry best practices and network with industry-respected fleet managers. However, there are other sources of best practices. One underutilized resource is prospective suppliers. Many fleet managers make themselves inaccessible to prospective suppliers. They are missing a wonderful opportunity to pick their brains, to learn of new developments in the industry. You need to continually ask suppliers what they have seen among their client base that is successful. Could these practices be implemented in your fleet operation?
I learned long ago that it is impossible to be an expert in fleet management. It is a continually evolving industry, and the best that we can hope for is to keep pace with the changes and perhaps gain the insight to peer a little beyond the horizon. You can be an expert on Roman history, for example, since that history has a beginning and an end.
But fleet management is a dynamic profession that is constantly evolving. Fleet management best practices in the next decade will dramatically differ from those of today. If you are not continually learning about fleet management, about new products and services, it’s easy to become stale at what you do. Avoid the “not invented here” arrogance. Adopt proven solutions successful at other fleet operations.
Without realizing it, some long-time fleet managers get settled into their positions and get too comfortable. They coast along repeating what’s worked in the past. The result? They get complacent. At worst, they stagnate. Are you too comfortable in your position?
Getting out of your comfort zone forces you to view fleet management in a new way. Be willing to experiment. Not all problems have a silver bullet solution; many times, problems are resolved through incremental enhancements. Be proactive. But more importantly, don’t rest on your past laurels. Push yourself, and you’ll be surprised as to what you will accomplish.
Let me know what you think